A beneficiary’s interest in a trust may be property of the bankruptcy estate. However, any trust containing spendthrift provisions that make the beneficiary’s interest in the trust non-transferable are protected from the beneficiary’s creditors. 11 U.S.C. 541(c) honors state spendthrift clauses. Therefore, if the trust is properly created under Massachusetts law pertaining to trusts, the bankruptcy code will honor the settelor’s intentions and keep the debtor-beneficiary’s interest in the trust from becoming property of the bankruptcy estate.
Trust beneficiaries should be careful, however. If the settler and beneficiaries are the same, the trust is self-settled, rendering spendthrift provisions unenforceable. Further, if the doctrine of merger applies (described above), the trust will cease to exist and negates the spendthrift protection.